Early Life of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20th, 1889 in the small town of Braunau am Inn in Austria. He was the fourth child of Alois and Klara Hitler, both of whom had come from peasant backgrounds. Hitler’s father was a customs official, an often bitter man who was rarely home. Hitler was criticized for his lazy and obstinate behavior as a child, and so he did poorly during his elementary years and eventually dropped out of school.
At the age of sixteen, in lieu of continuing with his education, Hitler moved to Vienna, Austria. He sold sketches, postcards, and watercolors to make a living. Although much of this endeavor was unsuccessful, eye-witness accounts described him as a brilliant sketcher, capturing realistic images and emotion through his artwork. During his stay in Vienna, Hitler encountered and was exposed to the German nationalist movement, a movement that shaped his beliefs in the years to come.
Involvement in WWI
In 1913, Hitler moved to Munich, Germany and in 1914, he volunteered for military service of the German army in WWI. Hitler was an exemplary soldier, and he was both respected and feared by his fellow soldiers. After a successful military career, Hitler was presented the Iron Cross, First Class and awarded the Black Wound Badge.
At the end of WWI in 1919, Hitler joined the NSDAP or National Socialist German Workers’ Party. He quickly rose through the ranks of the party, and by 1921 Hitler had become the leader of the party and a leading figure in German politics.
National Socialism and Rise to Power
Hitler was an influential speaker and was able to achieve significant levels of support within the country. After much political maneuvering and propaganda missions, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933. From this point, Hitler exercised total power of the country, steering it towards the path of national socialism.
In 1935, Hitler passed the Nuremburg Laws that outlawed any marriage or sexual relationships between Jews and persons of German blood, thus beginning a period of renewed anti-Semitism. In 1936, Hitler annexed Austria, followed by the annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia in 1938.
In September 1938, Hitler and British Prime Minister Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement, which gave German control of the Sudetenland. Hitler’s ambitions for Lebensraum or expansion of German borders continued and eventually led to WWII.
WWII and Defeat of Nazi Germany
At the start of WWII, Germany quickly gained a significant amount of territory. This included Norway, France, and parts of the Soviet Union. Hitler also undertook a systematic extermination program of Jews, Roma, and other “undesirable” peoples.
By 1941 however, the tide had already begun to turn against Hitler and Germany. In 1945, U.S., Soviet, and British forces had started to close in on Berlin, the final stronghold of Nazi Germany. Hitler committed suicide in his bunker on April 30th, 1945, signalling the end of WWII.
In the aftermath of the war, many of the leading figures associated with Nazi Germany were tried and convicted of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. While most were convicted and faced punishment for their actions, Hitler was never brought to justice for his role in the Holocaust and other crimes during WWII.
In the decades after the war, Hitler’s legacy has been one that has been shrouded in controversy. In Germany, displaying symbols associated with Nazism is a criminal offence and any discussion of Hitler’s life and reign is punishable. In recent years, there have been increasing demands for a more nuanced conversation about Hitler in order to ensure that the horrors of the Nazi regime are never forgotten.
The core of Hitler’s ideology was anti-Semitism and the concept of racial purity. He blamed the Jews for much of the economic hardship Germany experienced after WWI and sought to rid Germany of its “Jewish problem”. He implemented several programs designed to help further this agenda and millions of Jews were ultimately killed by Hitler’s regime.
Hitler also railed against what he considered to be “degenerate” modern art and culture, which he felt undermined traditional German values. He purged Germany of what he considered to be “degenerate” elements, and instead sought to promote traditional German art and culture.
Hitler also proposed a philosophy of National Socialism, which was a mixture of extreme nationalism and socialism. He proposed that the German people should unite under the Nazi Party and work together to achieve greatness. This ideology was extremely popular among the German people, as it promised a brighter future for Germany in the aftermath of WWI.
Hitler’s influence has been felt around the world, long after his death. He has been cited as an influence by numerous white nationalist and neo-conservative groups and his life has served as an example of what happens when power is abused and unchecked.
Hitler’s regime was arguably one of the cruelest and most ruthless in history. His actions led to the deaths of millions of people and the devastation of many countries. His legacy, though cloaked in controversy, will continue to affect generations to come.
Hitler’s legacy is one of terror and destruction, but it is also one of caution. His reign serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of tyranny, and of what can happen when an authoritarian leader is allowed to exercise power with impunity.
Hitler’s actions have also created a collective memory that has been shared across generations, ensuring that the horrors of his regime are never forgotten. Today, many of Hitler’s policies are still studied by scholars and compared to more modern political leaders, helping to provide a deeper understanding of the consequences of unchecked power.
Hitler was a master propagandist, responsible for several manipulative and effective campaigns to support the Nazi party. His book Mein Kampf, a mix of autobiography and political ideology, was recognizably authoritarian in tone and was used to rally support for the party.
In addition to Mein Kampf, Hitler’s regime was adept at using the press and other forms of media as tools of manipulation. Nazi propaganda was designed to be exclusionary and ultimately vilify certain groups, including Jews, Roma, and other “undesirable” peoples.
Hitler’s use of propaganda has been widely analyzed and studied, and is still a powerful tool today. By understanding Hitler’s manipulation of the media, modern scholars hope to develop strategies for identifying and countering bullying, exclusionary, and other manipulative tactics.
Hitler’s Impact on WWII
Hitler’s impact on WWII was indisputable. He was responsible for the massacre of millions of innocent people and the devastation of entire nations. His ambition for Lebensraum was a major factor in the war and his authoritarian policies ultimately led to his own downfall.
Hitler’s impact on WWII is still widely discussed today. Various assessments have been made of the consequences of Hitler’s actions, with some suggesting that his ambition for Lebensraum was a major cause of the war, while others argue that his reign was simply the result of a dysfunction in the German government.
The leadership and political acumen Hitler demonstrated during his reign, has been widely acknowledged and studied. Many have seen his actions as a warning to future leaders, one to be heeded if future atrocities are to be avoided.